With the web being the expansive abyss that it is, the success of a website really is down to the survival of the fittest.
It's fair to say that the advent of social media, wireless technology, mobile devices and the ferocious ongoing web development happening on a truly global scale has dictated that from Sir Tim Berners-Lee's humble beginnings, we are now constantly plugged in and connected. For this very reason, we are now spending an unprecedented amount of time online. The folks at Go-Gulf show some of the amazing numbers that provide a snapshot of how people spend their time online; albeit these figures date from over a year ago, so the figures will only have increased!
This fact gives rise to the need for websites to retain their gold dust visitors by entertaining, conversing, amusing, pleasing, helping, informing, sharing, and in short; engaging. Stopping by any given website these days should be likened to a fully-inclusive, über-indulgent, truffles and champagne on tab weekend stay at Mayfair's Claridges whilst having your photo taken for Flavio Briatore's not-so billionaire looking, ( The Billionaire Club website ; The Billionaire Shop is more like it, with Rich Kids of Instagram providing hours of amusement...and envy!). Just like in the traditional sense, the relationship between website and visitor should be an engagement-a happy engagement!
To create a website that is engaging, every element of the website's design must be considered tactically.
1. Visual prowess
The unfortunate truth is that we now live in what can be argued as an overly commercialised and materialistic world where everything must look fabulous; darling! The sad fact is if commercial websites want to survive they must be ready to adapt to to commercialisation. By and large, arguably, and sadly, for us back-end developers, beauty appears only to be screen deep! For this reason, websites must be aesthetically pleasing to retain customer engagement. More importantly, a website's visual prowess is the very starting point of the engagement process. First impressions count:get it right.
"Keep It Simple, Stupid": a design principle noted by the US Navy in 1960, and in-fact one of the core principles here at Kalexiko, states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. Taking a look at lovemomiji.com, a clean, minimal, timeless design that offers a simple and effective customer journey through what is a global, product-rich, eCommerce website, allowing customers to know what to do at all times and therefore encouraging the engagement.
3. Effective CTAs
Effective Call To Actions (CTAs), are essential tools to encourage users to do what you want, and in-turn engage with your website. Nurturing leads, is of course, one of the key marketing goals of any website, and so harnessing great design principles and effective copywriting are essential. Martinco.com, for example, use a definitive and unique colour to highlight CTAs throughout the website with clear text to ensure the user knows exactly what they'll be doing once actioned.
The "Request a callback" feature is a CTA that incorporates a variety of methods that encourage engagement. These include firstly the very notion of being able to request a callback, where the user is somewhat eased into a sense that Martinco will go out of their way, at their own expense, and at the convenience of the user to call them back at a time of the user's choice. Secondly is the technical procedure in which the mini-form is handled which is via Ajax, providing a seamless transition from completing, processing and acknowledging the form without distraction.
Our site, kalexiko.com, implements Olark's instant chat plugin which, by its bold mission statement, "Chat with your customers. Create trust, loyalty and happiness", so it does exactly what it says on the tin. Encouraging such engagement has been a key trigger in a number of sales created where customers have felt totally at ease with engaging through online chat.
4. Digital media
In-keeping with the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, the value of videos is untold. The advent of sites such as YouTube and Vimeo offer the easiest methods of delivering video content through your website thus keeping the audience engaged through a medium that has had them glued since 1924.
Adding functionality and CTAs to your videos can make them even more engaging. Apps like Viewbix now take video to a whole new engagement level allowing companies to insert interactive apps and share their experiences across the web, mobile and social networks.
5. Content is king
It's important to remember that people want to be engaged by well-written, informative, succinct writing that gets to the heart of a topic, sheds new light on it and invokes thought and emotion. It can be said that people are crying out for engagement! If you want people to really love what you're doing you have to create stuff worth loving. The notion of "it's not what people buy, it's why they buy it", can be directly related to why people visit and engage with the same websites day-in day-out. The BBC must be the very best example of a website which is the first port of call for all generic news, topped only by Facebook and Twitter feeds, of course!
Further to the idea that content is king, that is only the case as long as it is used proactively and dynamically. Choosing to showcase relevant content, you can ensure that the visitor knows you are listening intently. Providing customised content targeted towards geography, behavior and past visit attributes is a great strategy to engage with visitors. Martinco, for example, makes use of location-aware browsing, serving properties nearest to your location.
Added to content navigation, is the great practice of providing links to content related to the content being or been read. This well known and used technique provides the user targeted options that can be seen to be CTAs, and in doing so maintains and increases their time and attention and in-turn, their engagement.
6. Be sociable
Without wanting to state the obvious, social media engagement is now crucial in keeping visitors notified, connected and aware. Seeing friends that have liked a page or seen a tweet recommending a product then users far more likely to engage with it. Social media not only encourages further sharing with a level of trust involved, but coupled with customised and user-focused campaigns, also helps build an audience of long term readers and loyal users.
With the overwhelming statistics of mobile users, it's crucial to have your website design and content to respond to whatever device it's being viewed on making it accessible to all at all times. For best accessibility your website should be tested for functionality, design and usability in as many browsers, platforms and devices as possible. Browserstack is an indispensable tool we use here at Kalexiko for ease of testing, before everyone pounces on their multitude of devices to break whatever's being demonstrated!
Simply put, if your website does not perform properly or as intended to do so, users will swiftly disengage and go elsewhere.
So to wrap it up
Consumer engagement is the ultimate point in which a brand and a consumer connect in order to offer a true experience related to the brand's core values. It is a long term connection that must be enhanced over time. Increased engagement leads to increased awareness and trust and both of these can eventually lead to much greater conversion.